Monday Open Thread | Gospel Music Week: Thomas Dorsey

Good Morning, Everyone.

Going to enjoy music for the soul this week.

We begin today with Thomas A. Dorsey, The Father of Gospel Music.

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Thomas Andrew Dorsey (July 1, 1899 – January 23, 1993) was known as “the father of black gospel music” and was at one time so closely associated with the field that songs written in the new style were sometimes known as “dorseys.”[2] Earlier in his life he was a leading blues pianist known as Georgia Tom.

As formulated by Dorsey, gospel music combines Christian praise with the rhythms of jazz and the blues. His conception also deviates from what had been, to that time, standard hymnal practice by referring explicitly to the self, and the self’s relation to faith and God, rather than the individual subsumed into the group via belief.

Dorsey, who was born in Villa Rica, Georgia, was the music director at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago from 1932 until the late 1970s. His best known composition, “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”, was performed by Mahalia Jackson and was a favorite of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.. Another composition, “Peace in the Valley”, was a hit for Red Foley in 1951 and has been performed by dozens of other artists, including Queen of Gospel Albertina Walker, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Dorsey died in Chicago, aged 93.

In 2002, the Library of Congress honored his album Precious Lord: New Recordings of the Great Songs of Thomas A. Dorsey (1973), by adding it to the United States National Recording Registry.


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Life and career

Dorsey’s father was a minister and his mother a piano teacher. He learned to play blues piano as a young man. After studying music formally in Chicago, he became an agent for Paramount Records. He put together a band for Ma Rainey called the “Wild Cats Jazz Band” in 1924.

He started out playing at rent parties with the names Barrelhouse Tom and Texas Tommy, but he was most famous as Georgia Tom. As Georgia Tom, he teamed up with Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) with whom he recorded the raunchy 1928 hit record “Tight Like That”, a sensation, eventually selling seven million copies.[3] In all, he is credited with more than 400 blues and jazz songs.

Dorsey began recording gospel music alongside blues in the mid-1920s. This led to his performing at the National Baptist Convention in 1930, and becoming the bandleader of two churches in the early 1930s.[4]

His first wife, Nettie, who had been Rainey’s wardrobe mistress, died in childbirth in 1932. Two days later the child, a son, also died. In his grief, he wrote his most famous song, one of the most famous of all gospel songs, “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”.[5]

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Unhappy with the treatment received at the hands of established publishers, Dorsey opened the first black gospel music publishing company, Dorsey House of Music. He also founded his own gospel choir and was a founder and first president of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses.

His influence was not limited to African American music, as white musicians also followed his lead. “Precious Lord” has been recorded by Albertina Walker, Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin, Clara Ward, Dorothy Norwood, Jim Reeves, Roy Rogers, and Tennessee Ernie Ford, among hundreds of others. It was a favorite gospel song of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and was sung at the rally the night before his assassination, and, per his request, at his funeral by Mahalia Jackson. It was also a favorite of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who requested it to be sung at his funeral. Dorsey was also a great influence on other Chicago-based gospel artists such as Albertina Walker and The Caravans and Little Joey McClork.

Dorsey wrote “Peace in the Valley” for Mahalia Jackson in 1937, which also became a gospel standard. He was the first African American elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and also the first in the Gospel Music Association’s Living Hall of Fame. In 2007, he was inducted as a charter member of the Gennett Records Walk of Fame in Richmond, Indiana. His papers are preserved at Fisk University, along with those of W.C. Handy, George Gershwin, and the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

Dorsey’s works have proliferated beyond performance, into the hymnals of virtually all American churches and of English-speaking churches worldwide.

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44 Responses to Monday Open Thread | Gospel Music Week: Thomas Dorsey

  1. rikyrah says:

    Charles M. Blow

    February 16, 2014

    It’s official: daughter just named to 3-person nat cadets foil fencing team! Will rep the US in world championships. #HardWorkPaysOff #USA!

  2. rikyrah says:

    Poll: Eleanor Roosevelt seen as top first lady
    By TAL KOPAN | 2/15/14 10:50 AM EST Updated: 2/16/14 9:03 AM EST

    Former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt is the top-ranked first lady in American history, according to a new poll, with Michelle Obama entering the list in fifth place.

    Roosevelt has topped the list each time Siena College has polled on the topic in the past 32 years, according to the Siena/C-SPAN First Ladies Poll released Saturday. Abigail Adams retained her second place spot and Jacqueline Kennedy held on to third place compared with their last poll in 2008. Dolley Madison jumped to fourth place, Obama was fifth in her first appearance in the poll and Hillary Clinton fell to sixth from fourth in 2008.

    Read more:

    • rikyrah says:


      This should explain the almost obsessive and intensified attacks on Mrs Obama. How dare she be the most popular living First Lady! And ahead of Hillary too? Abomination! They won’t let up now. The attacks and smears on Mrs Obama are only going to get worse. Can’t have the black woman anywhere near the top! I bet “historian” Allida Black, Hillary stan and chairperson of Ready for Hillary PAC must be seething. She’s one of those who thinks that in order for Hillary’s top perch to be permanently secured, Michelle Obama must be completely destroyed. And then there’s the other “historian” Myra Gutin, Barbara (and sometimes Laura) Bush stan, who occasionally straddles and talks up Hillary too; Myra must be crushed at the news. Barbara and Laura didn’t fare too well. Myra Gutin was once asked about Mrs Obama and only had this to offer: “I’m sure she’ll go on to do something in “her” community.”

  3. rikyrah says:

    Hillary Clinton plunges to 21st place on first-lady ‘integrity’ rankings despite overall 6th place showing in survey of historians

    Siena College’s polling institute has surveyed historians and other academics five times since 1982
    Mrs. Clinton debuted at #2 overall in 1993, right after her husband took office
    She has never placed high on the ‘integrity’ scale, and now ranks in the bottom half of the 39 presidential spouses covered by the Siena study
    ‘Trustworthiness was never the Clintons’ long suit,’ says one well-known political prognosticator

    By David Martosko, U.s. Political Editor

    PUBLISHED: 15:15 EST, 17 February 2014 | UPDATED: 15:45 EST, 17 February 2014

    Read more:
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  4. rikyrah says:

    February 17, 2014

    South Carolina Poised to Make History
    “A record seven African-American candidates are running for statewide office in 2014. Some could be eliminated in June’s primary elections, but it appears at least three black candidates will make it to November’s general election,” The State reports.

    “South Carolina also is assured to elect its first African-American candidate in a statewide race since Reconstruction in one U.S. Senate race, where all three of the announced candidates are black.”

    • Ametia says:

      This was a great panel led by Joy Reid.

      • Ametia says:

        Yes, SYG makes it frankly easy for white people in a very lame slim basis of self defense to say “yeah” I was afraid for my life, I thought I saw a gun. I heard him say he was coming to kill me, so I had to get my gun and defend myself.

        This may be true, but don’t BLACK people get to use the same very lame slim basis of self defense to say the same?

  5. Rikyrah, would you downsize this photo to fit the sidebar? TYSM!

    She steals shoes! bwa ha ha ha

    Stole my heart, stole my shoes

  6. rikyrah says:

    Will Obama Help Men who are Eggshell White?

    By Todd Starnes

    President Obama is launching a new initiative to help young men of color. It’s called My Brother’s Keeper.

    The President told Charles Barkley in a television interview last night that he wants create special educational, mentorship and apprenticeship programs – for a specific segment of the population.

    “We’re going to pull together private philanthropies, foundations working with governors, mayors non-profits and we’re going to focus on young men of color and find ways in which to create more pathways to success for them,” the president told Barkley.

    He said he wants to expose young men of color to career options that could pay as much as $35 an hour.

    “Across the board from the time they’re young all the way to their first job, we want to help more young African-American men and Latino men succeed,” he said.

    I applaud the president’s initiative – but what about the young, white man looking for a job?

    Where are the special programs designed to help him get a leg up in the world? Where are the mentoring and interning opportunities for white kids from impoverished neighborhoods?

    The Rev. Martin Luther King Junior once had a dream that his children would one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    Let’s hope in the future that President Obama applies that same standard when it comes time to helping young men find jobs.

  7. rikyrah says:

    Barack Obama: You can call it ‘Obamacare’
    By JOSE DELREAL | 2/17/14 9:38 AM EST

    It may not be polling well, but President Barack Obama isn’t too worried about the Affordable Care Act’s nickname, “Obamacare,” or the health care law’s impact on his legacy.

    “I like it. I don’t mind,” the president told former NBA star Charles Barkley in an interview that aired Sunday about the term “Obamacare.” “And I tell you, five years from now, when everybody’s saying, ‘Man, I’m sure glad we got healthcare,’ there are going to be a whole bunch of people who don’t call it Obamacare anymore because they don’t want me to get the credit.”

  8. Ametia says:


  9. Ametia says:

    NBC Pushes Too Far in Bringing Bode Miller to Tears

    Bode Miller had just tied for a bronze medal in the men’s super-G at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, on Sunday and it was time to be interviewed. NBC had already established Miller’s quest as an emotional story line, putting a microphone on his wife, Morgan, to hear her reactions to his races, and having the couple sit for an interview with Tom Brokaw. He was being humanized — as the changed man, the family man, the mature 36-year-old whose brother had died last year.

    This is the type of storytelling that lubricates NBC’s prime-time Olympic engine.

    This time, the engine backfired.

  10. Ametia says:

    ’12 Years’ is a hit with these Brits

    The slavery drama gathers awards for best picture and actor. Cate Blanchett takes leading actress honors.

    LONDON — For the second straight year, a story taken from the pages of American history triumphed at the British film awards, with “12 Years a Slave” winning prizes for best film and for leading actor Chiwetel Ejiofor.,0,1907400.story#ixzz2tazR94XZ

  11. Ametia says:

    Rikyrah, did you watch Downton Abbey last night? I missed the last episode, and haven’t seen it yet. How did Bates find out about Green?

  12. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone! We need this series this week, Rikyrah. Thank you. And Precious Lord was my dad’s favorite hymn

  13. rikyrah says:

    Bill Maher Makes Republicans Pay for Attacking Hillary Clinton With the Monica Scandal

    By: Jason Easley
    Saturday, February, 15th, 2014, 2:47 pm

    In a blistering rejection of Republican “logic,” Bill Maher wiped the floor with Rand Paul and the Republican Party for using the Lewinsky scandal to attack Hillary Clinton.

    Maher was arguing that the American people like their presidential candidates to be new, fresh, and unknown. The Real Time host pointed to the electoral failures of Bob Dole, Walter Mondale, John Kerry, John McCain, and Mitt Romney as proof that voters like their candidates to be baggage free.

    He moved on to the topic of Hillary Clinton, “And who has more baggage than the current favorite for the Democratic nomination? This week Rand Paul and Reince Priebus both announced that the old Clinton scandals were fair game in 2016. As if it was Hillary’s fault that her husband got blown while he was president in the nineties. Like she was in on it. Like it was a p**n movie where Bill and Monica are doing it, and she’s watching from a white leather couch while she bites on a string of pearls.”

    It only took Bill Maher a moment or two, but he completely explained why using the Lewinsky scandal against Hillary Clinton in 2016 is a recipe for disaster. Republicans don’t remember this because they were busy trying to impeach her husband, but the scandal made Hillary Clinton a very sympathetic figure. It could be argued that the Lewinsky scandal is what helped to change Mrs. Clinton’s public image and put her on the path to winning the Senate seat in New York.

  14. rikyrah says:

    Bill Nye Pummels Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn In Climate Change Debate

    By: Jason Easley
    Sunday, February, 16th, 2014, 11:11 am

    The Meet The Press climate change debate wasn’t much of a debate at all as The Science Guy Bill Nye called out Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn’s talking points, and pummeled her with science and facts.

    Rep. Blackburn followed the Koch and energy industry talking points of introducing doubts about the science. Blackburn’s whole premise was based on doubt. She doubted Nye’s qualifications, the science of climate change, and whether the policies to combat climate change would work.

    Blackburn knew that Nye had the facts on his side, so she tried to discredit him right off the bat, “I think Bill would probably agree with this, neither he or I am a climate scientist. He is an engineer and actor. I am a member of Congress.”

    Nye kept calling her out for trying to introduce doubt. Nye said, “Gotta say once again, what people are doing is introducing the idea that scientific uncertainty in this case about what we call cold weather events in what we call back East is the same as uncertainty about the whole idea of climate change, and this is unscientific. It’s not logical. It is a way apparently that the fossil fuel industry has dealt with our politics, and this is not good. You don’t need a PhD in climate science to understand what’s going on. That we have overwhelming evidence that climate is changing. That you can not tie any one event to that is not the same as doubt about the whole thing.”

    Blackburn made the mistake of saying that the Earth’s temperature change wasn’t significant, and Nye pounced. He said, “When you said, you asserted congresswoman that a change from 320 to 400 parts per million is insignificant. My goodness, that’s thirty percent. That’s an enormous change, and it’s changing the world…There is no debate in the scientific community, and I encourage the congresswoman to look at the facts. You are a leader. We need you to change things, not deny what’s happening. This weather event’s important.”

    The Science Guy even played the patriotism card, and said that he was a patriot who wanted to lead the world in climate change technology. Nye said, “The more we mess around with this denial. The less we get done.” Blackburn stuck to the denier talking points and introduced nothing to the debate.

  15. rikyrah says:

    Gov. Chris Christie has new childhood pal to shove into Bridgegate traffic

    Lt. Thomas (Chip) Michaels, who went to high school with the governor, took David Wildstein on a tour of Ft. Lee traffic as the mess began. Following the tour, Michaels texted Wildstein, ‘I may have idea to mak ths beter (sic).’
    Comments (31)
    By Bill Hutchinson / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    Published: Sunday, February 16, 2014, 2:29 PM

    Another childhood pal of Gov. Chris Christie has been tied to the Bridgegate scandal by emails suggesting he knew of the pending fiasco before it happened.

    In the latest twist to the George Washington Bridge debacle, emails show Port Authority Police Lt. Thomas (Chip) Michaels took the governor’s point man at the agency, David Wildstein, on a tour of the span at the start of the traffic mess.

    The messages, first reported on Sunday by MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki, also indicate Michaels had gotten wind of the plan to flood Fort Lee with traffic the day before the controversial lane closings and kept Wildstein updated.

    On Sept. 8, a day before the lane closures, Michaels emailed Port Authority Capt. Darcy Licorish, asking, “Is there going to be a new traffic pattern installed for Monday the 9th?”

    Licorish confirmed that “maintenance personnel” were closing the lanes. He texted Michaels that the action would “most likely” affect rush-hour operations.

    Read more:

  16. rikyrah says:

    Sen. Mike Lee Brazenly Lies and Claims That President Obama is Violating the Constitution
    By: Jason Easley
    Sunday, February, 16th, 2014, 4:36 pm

    Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) misled the American people on how their government works today, so that he could lie by claiming that President Obama is violating the Constitution.

    Sen. Lee has embraced two lies. The first lie is that the president is acting in an unconstitutional manner. The president’s constitutional duty is to faithfully implement the laws that are passed by Congress. In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled that the executive branch has flexibility on implementation dates. The D.C. circuit court has also ruled that delays in implementation must be reasonable. Implementation can’t be delayed forever, but the executive branch does have the power to delay implementing legislation.

    The second lie that Lee embraced that is Congress has no power to stop the president. Congress has the power to impeach President Obama is he is violating the constitution. The problem for Republicans is that the president is not violating the constitution.

    Congressional Republicans could take President Obama to court, but they would have to argue in favor of implementing the employer mandate. Lee’s point about congressional Republicans not having standing in court was a bit of baloney. The truth is that Republicans don’t want to argue in favor of implementing an employer mandate that they have been demonizing for years.

  17. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  18. Yahtc says:

    Thank you from my heart, rikyrah, for bringing Gospel Music and its history here this week!

    One lady in video: “I don’t know anyone who has written such heart searching songs as Thomas A. Dorsey. They come out of experience in him…that’s what he says….There’s no song that can equal Precious Lord. He wrote Precious Lord when he was discouraged, and his spirit was broken.”

    All of you reading here who do not know why his spirit was broken at the time he spontaneously composed and sangPrecious Lord just have to listen to that first video! I am so moved.

    Now I am going to listen to remaining 7 videos you posted, rikyrah.

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